Remedy and Poison: Examining a Detroit Household’s Consumption of Proprietary Medicine at the Turn of the 20th Century

Author(s): Samantha Malette

Year: 2016

Summary

Analysis of a medicine bottle assemblage excavated from a former Detroit household in Roosevelt Park acts as a starting point for discussing the material and social world of health and hygiene, and the dual role that patent medicine played in the lives of people at the turn of the 20th-century as both a remedy and poison. Drawing upon the history of pharmacy, a combination of artifact-based analysis and archival documentary evidence reveals patterns of medicinal consumption for the property’s itinerant residents, spanning an occupational period between 1890 and the demolition of the home in 1906. This initial examination of pharmaceutical products traces the decline in patent medicine consumption amongst a subset of Detroit’s Corktown inhabitants, and documents a shift wherein local proprietary medicines gradually became overshadowed by the developing move towards industrialized medicine by large corporations.

Cite this Record

Remedy and Poison: Examining a Detroit Household’s Consumption of Proprietary Medicine at the Turn of the 20th Century. Samantha Malette. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Washington, D.C. 2016 ( tDAR id: 434731)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 513